Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mark Linkous - Sea of Teeth

Suicides of artists like Mark Linkous or Vic Chesnutt (the list is long, including Curt Cobain and Sylvia Plath, Virginia Wolff, Vincent Van Gogh, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Paul Celan, and many, many more) make their final act become something like a thesis for their lives. What a terrible thing that is. What a terrible way to organize a life. 

Mark Linkous, as his suicide is the most recent, has me thinking what a disservice to his art his suicide will be. For him - as for others like Vic Chesnutt, who create art from the center of their difficulties - there might be real pain they're creating from out of, but once it's rendered into art it becomes metaphorical. Suicide, however, tends to make it autobiographical, as if the Sparklehorse albums were all part of a long suicide note. It makes our interest in the music seem prurient (in the way that many read Sylvia Plath’s poetry to participate in the personality of Plath rather than to participate in art).

It doesn’t have to seem prurient, of course, but there’s always that last act, that last page of the biography to deal with. A friend of mine the other day was saying that if one is contemplating suicide, one should make it look like an accident. It saves a lot of mess. 

Whatever else, I admired the work of Mark Linkous very much. “Seas forever boil, trees will turn to soil” he sang on the song “Sea of Teeth.” And so must we all.


At 3/10/2010 10:33 AM, Anonymous W. Pro said...

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At 3/11/2010 7:09 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Tooth spam. I think Linkous would rather like that comment.

At 3/11/2010 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very perceptive, John... an act rather than an accident, which colours all his previous acts. However, I can't help but hear snatches of lyrics that describe his pain.

I must remind myself that these don't portend in any way, whatever their power since his death. And we mustn't forget that he made beautiful music.

"I'm so sick
of goodbyes"

Mark, in the end, didn't get his "stupid mind" together. RIP.


At 3/11/2010 7:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is an act of will. Deliberate. Chosen. Something over which a person has control when life is out of control. Regretfully, this last resort can leave a long path of pain behind in the hearts of others who blame themselves, even when there was nothing to be done but accept the choice.



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